SPOKANE, Wash. – Here is the scenario.
It has been a long day of shopping, you get out of the parking lot, take the keys out of your pocket, and unlock what you think is your car.
Turns out, in the same parking lot there is a car just like yours that your keys also unlock.
That is a bit of a problem, yeah?
KREM 2 News was flooded with Facebook comments with similar scenarios. Like Lori, whose key fob opened up a different minivan; Karen, who got into the wrong Ford Ranger; and Robert, who was delivering a pizza, went into a motel, came out, and got into the wrong truck.
“People run into that stuff all the time,” said Matt Sweet a locksmith in Spokane.
Sweet said it all comes down to math – there are only so many key combinations out there. Sooner or later, two keys that are similar enough to each other may be able to unlock the same car.
“[One customer] was running one car with the wrong key for years until finally it wore to a point where it just wouldn’t work,” Sweet said.
Certain makes and models can be particularly vulnerable. Sweet said cars made before the year 2000 are the most at risk, because the keys have less combinations and do not have a coded transponder.
Newer keys that use a digital code can add an extra layer of protection, but just like computers, can glitch.
What can you do to see if you are vulnerable to a similar situation? Sweet said if you have a car from earlier than 2000, probably not much; but if you have a car that is newer you can actually go to a locksmith and they can tell you how many different keys are paired to open and start your car.